From Bloc debacle to Dublin violence: a rocky dance festival weekend

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As U.K. vets the Stanton Warriors put it on Facebook today, it was not a good weekend for dance festivals on both sides of the Irish Sea. Having assembled a truly enviable electronic music line-up for its 2012 edition in East London, Bloc Festival became the weekend’s talking point for all the wrong reasons. The event, which was held at the London Pleasure Gardens, was shut down during the Friday night festivities with fears of overcrowding. “By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns,” the festival wrote on its website. “We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early. Bloc will not open on Saturday 7th July so please don’t come to the site. Stand by for full information on refunds.”

Since the shutdown of the much-anticipated festival, a range of theories – none conclusive – have been bandied about. Many punters reported huge queues, under-stocked and under-staffed bars, weak sound-systems, bottlenecks in thoroughfares and set time delays. The Metropolitan Police Department issued an official statement, as reported by Dummy: “The decision to close the venue was the festival organiser’s – though the Met were there to advise on the implications of either staying open or closing. The problem stemmed from rain, and people hiding under cover during the showers, creating huge ‘pinch-points’.” However, this statement hasn’t gone over well with attendees, who argue there was no inclement weather on Friday night. A message on Bloc’s website assures ticket-holders, “We are currently gathering information about Friday night’s events. For those of you who are frustrated and angry – we hear you. For those sending love and support – thank you.”

This is the first summer that Bloc has used the London Pleasure Gardens in the Royal Victoria Docks, with an estimated capacity of 15,000. Its home for the past few years has been the Butlin’s Holiday Resort, which accommodates under 7,000 punters. Bloc’s line-ups are always extensive, with 2012’s being particularly far-reaching. The Main Arena was set to host Richie Hawtin, Orbital, Jeff Mills, Flying Lotus and Squarepusher, while Saturday’s cancelled artists included Four Tet, Martyn, Apparat, Scuba, Luke Vibert and A.T.O.L., featuring Modeselektor, Marcel Dettmann and Shed on-stage together. It’s no surprise there are some severely bummed people out there.

One of the acts who didn’t appear at Bloc on Friday night as the festival began to unravel was Snoop Dogg, and his other weekend engagement was at Phoenix Park in Dublin. The hip hop mogul appeared alongside Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris and headliners Swedish House Mafia on Saturday 7 July. That event has also attracted negative press after nine reported stabbings on-site. One man died from the injuries. Despite the incidents of violence on the ground, Steve Angello posted a photo to Facebook of the Swedes onstage, and it all looks impressive from their vantage point.


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scottyk82 said on the 9th Jul, 2012

Wow, this sux. I also missed out on Orbital over the weekend due to inclement weather at Rock for People in Hradec Kralove. They shut the festival down and booted everyone out. Got back to the hotel and checked facebook to find out it was back on. Skrillex did an side set in a tent, but no refunds. Although tickets did end up at around 20 bucks a day.


JacquiM said on the 9th Jul, 2012

That's terrible! I knew people who flew over from Melbourne for this, they'll be devasated.. :(


crabman said on the 9th Jul, 2012

Bloc was fine until Snoop didn't come on stage, then there was a massive crush, they shut down the main stage, other stages couldn't handle the overflow. One by one they were closed down. Didn't help that the full venue wasn't ready in time (not the promoter's fault, and at the venue launch the weekend before the organisers were on stage promising that it would be ready) so they had much less space to work with.

Still, the flow on effect was incredible. The London scene worked together to put all the main acts on at clubs throughout the city with free entry for Bloc punters, and cheapo entry for everyone else. PLUR++ would rave again.